India’s Largest Tractor Maker Sees Self-Driving Future in Farms

  • Mahindra says autonomous tractors can boost farm productivity
  • Fear of collisions virtually non-existent in farms: Mahindra

Indian employees stand near tractors at a new Mahindra Mahindra (MM) manufacturing plant at Zaheerabad in Medak District, around 126 kilometres from Hyderabad on March 6, 2013. Auto-maker Mahindra Mahindra reported 10.99 percent increase in its total sales to 47,824 units in February 2013. The company sold 43,087 units in the same month in 2012, MM said in a statement. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAMSEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Photographer: Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images

India’s largest tractor maker says it wants to play a role in bringing self-driving vehicles to farms across the country.

“The most fertile ground -- pardon the pun -- for autonomy is in agricultural tractors,” Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. told shareholders in Mumbai Wednesday. “This is an area where productivity increases are sorely needed to feed the growing needs of the world. It’s also an area where paranoia about accidents and collisions is virtually non-existent.”

Mahindra’s plan to develop self-driving tractors comes at a time when competitors such as Deere & Co. are already offering autonomous vehicles and digital tools and technologies are increasingly being adopted by the industry. Automakers from Toyota Motor Corp. to Tesla Motors Inc. and technology giants including Google have been working on vehicles capable of driving themselves that they expect to be ready in the next few years.

Mahindra sold 240,721 tractors in India and overseas in the year ended in March, with a 43 percent share of the domestic market. Over the past decade it has acquired competitors and collaborated with other farm-equipment makers. In 2015, Mahindra bought a 33 percent stake in Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery to boost its presence in the heavy-duty tractor market.

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